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Civil Remedies for Controlling Crime: The Role of Community Organizations (From Civil Remedies and Crime Prevention, P 241-259, 1998, Lorraine Green Mazerolle and Jan Roehl, eds. - See NCJ-175510)

NCJ Number
J Roehl
Date Published
19 pages
This paper reviews the history of civil remedies used by community organizations to control crimes and presents the results of a national survey of community organizations regarding the organizations' characteristics, the types and prevalence of civil remedy strategies used, problems encountered, and outcomes of the strategies.
Community organizations and citizens have increasingly used civil remedies to compel non-offending third parties to take action to prevent or mitigate crime, drug law offenses, and disorder in their neighborhoods. Seventy-three organizations responded to the survey. The organizations varied in size, staffing, and activities; most served urban areas. The main roles of neighborhood residents in the enforcement of civil remedy strategies were to identify and document the problem, to keep pressure on appropriate authorities to resolve the problem, and to monitor the situation over time. The two most common forms of civil remedies were environmental changes and enforcement strategies. Community organizations most often used nuisance and drug abatement ordinances and municipal codes; they sometimes collaborated with police, prosecutors, and other government agencies. Community organizations reported general success in the use of these strategies. The greatest challenge to community-based civil remedies is the charge that they displace rather than eliminate crime and drug problems. Future advances and acceptance of civil remedies may depend on enhancing mutual problem solving and information sharing between citizens and government officials with enforcement responsibilities. Overall, community organizations have a unique role in community-based crime control and neighborhood revitalization. Tables and 50 references (Author abstract modified)